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Trump’s surge to power a ‘bombshell’

US Consul Mary Ellen Koenig (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Relations between the United States and Bermuda will remain cordial and productive during Donald Trump’s presidency, the US Consul General has said.

Mary Ellen Koenig also agreed that working-class antipathy to Government, which spawned President Trump’s victory and Brexit in the United Kingdom, had noticeable parallels in Bermudian society and beyond.

“It was a bombshell result that nobody anticipated, probably including Mr Trump himself,” Ms Koenig said of yesterday morning’s outcome.

“But it’s a continuation of fears and anxieties which are affecting populations around the world. A lot of it stems from economic uncertainty and citizens feeling vulnerable in the face of globalisation.”

Ms Koenig said that although she could not reveal who she voted for in any election, “that doesn’t mean we don’t feel very strongly about who wins”.

“We serve the Government and the people of the United States, so we have to stay out of partisan politics,” she said.

“But I would be dishonest if I didn’t say I was eagerly anticipating the idea of a woman winning the election.”

Acknowledging the global pessimism surrounding the new president, Ms Koenig said that she did not believe the trajectory of American society would fundamentally change in the coming four years.

“Potentially there will be policies that people won’t like, but the American public have spoken,” she said.

“They were very anxious to see a change in our country, and we’re going to see what that change looks like.”

Regarding some of President Trump’s more outrageous promises, such as building a wall between the United States and Mexico, Ms Koenig said she could not yet separate the genuine policies from the electioneering rhetoric.

“Obviously he has some very specific things he wants to do, but there are constraints to being president.

“Whether or not he can manage to pull them off, we’ll see,” she said.

“If he focuses on the country’s infrastructure and creates jobs, I will cheer him with all my heart. There are other places I might disagree with him, but that’s the nature of our democracy.”

Ms Koenig also stressed the importance of President Trump bringing together a “deeply divided” country, whose vast differences and tensions were further stretched by a fraught election process.

“I was encouraged by Mr Trump’s remarks this morning. I think people recognise the need to talk about healing and the things we remain proud of,” she said.

“Unifying the country and getting over some of the hostility of recent months is a tall order, but we certainly need the new leadership to try to bridge these gaps.”

Describing herself as “a born optimist”, Ms Koenig said she remained hopeful for the future prosperity of her homeland.

“Some people are elated, other people are disappointed, but I don’t believe that the basic decency of the American people has been undermined by this election,” she said.

“Now need to move on and try to ensure that Mr Trump’s presidency is as successful as it can be.

“Meanwhile, the United States and Bermuda will remain friends, and continue working on issues of common interest.”